A Beginner’s Guide to Automating Your Email Marketing
Providing a beginner's guide to automating your email marketing. Many people think of email marketing and consider it only for sending out a mass newsletter email to a number of subscribers. Actually, times have moved on and these tools have now become much more sophisticaed and helpful to your needs.
It might not seem like it from the outside but Email Marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels out there. In fact, it is the one that has evolved the most and is seen to continue on improving even as the years pass.
Some people use Email marketing for relatively tame stuff like campaign announcements and newsletters. However, more and more savvy companies out there use the channel to be a responsive tool that deals directly with customer behavior. If done right, it might even net you tremendous engagement and traffic for every content you put up there.
If this is a premise that you find interesting, then you’ve come the right place. Now is the time for you to learn everything that you can about automating your email system so that it becomes a near-semi automatic marketing tool.
What is It?
By concept, an automated email system is something that targets your audience depending on what they did or about to do. To make this concept easier to understand, here’s an example:
Imagine that you, an advertiser, have created 5 different advertisements with each aimed at different demographics. One might be for newcomers to your brand, another for long-time customers, another for first-time purchasers, another for the people that haven’t bought something from your company for quite a time, and another who had bailed on their orders.
Given the rather precise targets that these ads are aiming for, you cannot just publish them for general consumption. The reason for this is because not every advertisement targets a need or concern that all people share.
So, your next best bet is to release them to people who actually hit the conditions that the ad is targeting. And this is where automated email comes into play.
By automating your email marketing system, you are actually letting the platform dictate what kind of marketing a person in your email subscription list gets depending on what they do in relation to your brand.
However, that does not mean that the system is 100% autonomous. You will still have to set things up so that the platform responds properly to customer behavior. Of course, in most automated email platforms, you will have to still create the email ad that the program will send out to your subscribers.
What the platform does, instead, is deal with the more tedious aspects of email marketing for you. On paper, if you have 500 subscribers in your email list, you have 500 opportunities for unique interactions with different individuals. And that is not something that you could do if you choose to send out different email marketing content to different people manually.
Here’s the beauty of Automating your Email Marketing, it can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be. In fact, there are two types of email automation that you need to be aware of.
The first is the Simple Automation. Here, the platform only uses time-based parameters in deciding what kind of email to send out to recipients. You may use this for time-based events like contests or even anniversaries of when a person signed up to your list. Or even their birthdays.
The second one is the Complex Automation. This one operated on decision-based parameters made by your subscribers and prospects. For example, you can automate your emails so as to boost the sales of a product like, say, an eBook. Your automated email might contain a snippet of that product which eventually leads to people downloading it. You can even use these types of automated emails to set up a “customer” path which gives you an idea as to how that person came across your brand depending on their point of entry.
What Can You Do With Automated Email?
This does beg the question: why should your business need email automation? The premise of automation for your email is rather simple and straight forward. It’s in the application where things get diverse. Here are some of the things that you can do once you have set up an automated email marketing system.
- Lead Nurturing
Email has always been one of the best ways to nurture leads and automating it tends to increase its effectiveness by threefold. With automation, you can send out several highly relevant messages that connect you to your prospect depending on what they have done.
Relevance of message is necessary for your customer to relate to you. The more relevant your messages are, the more likely they will stay in contact with your brand. And even better is that they will be more likely to tell others about you.
- Increasing Brand Reach
It’s often the complaint of many marketers today that their reach on certain social media sites has considerably lessened. Facebook, for example, is not netting the same amount of traffic from prospects across all brands now compared to the past.
That is not to say that social media marketing is dying today. You still are going to get a lot of traction if you post content on Facebook or Twitter. It is just that most of your content there wouldn’t be seen by all in your target market.
However, in email, the frequency and reach you have towards your prospects is something that is always within your control. So as long as the automation is set up right, your emails are always going to land in your prospect’s inbox.
- Segmenting for Precision Targeting
Research has shown that click-through rates tend to increase by 50% if the message is properly segmented. In other words, your content becomes more engaging and responsive if you target it specifically for certain market segments. In fact, going mass market in your appeal tends to harm your brand more than it did in the past.
With email automation, you can make your content target different segments depending on what categories you have put up in the system. For starters, your segments could look something like this:
- Location - Good for content that involves info about local events and promotions.
- Age - Helps you mold your message to fit the mindset and language used by certain age demographics.
- Interests - Great for automated campaigns that hit specific customer behaviors in your market.
- Gender - Great for segmenting your product line based on the common needs and interests of both genders.
In practice, it could look something like this: Imagine that you are a toy store owner and your business is offering a discount on all Hasbro products from the previous season. You could segment your emails by gender or send out different emails for those that are fans of My Little Pony, Transformers, and the like.
- Streamlining Sales
Funneling sales has always been a rather tedious task in online marketing. But, by automating your email, you could free up your sales team’s time to focus on the leads that are the most likely to convert.
A lot of automated email platforms allow you to monitor click-through rates and other actions that prospects make when they receive your email. If your sales team know from at least which channels traffic to your website came from, they’ll have an easier time determining which ones are the most interested and engaged with your brand which could easily lead to sales.
- Tracking Results
One of the features offered in almost all email automation software is the ability to track and measure the results of your campaigns. The terms might change from platform to platform, but all email automation systems can help you measure how successful your campaigns are depending on some Key Performance Indicators such as:
- Click-through Rate
- Open Rates
- Delivery Rates
These metrics can tell you how well your campaigns are doing and in real time. Once you have the data, all that is left to do is to improve on your content so that a healthy return of investment can be seen in the future.
One Important Reminder: The examples above barely scratch the surface as to what you could do with your automated emails. However, they are enough for you to get acquainted with how automated email systems work and what you can do with their most basic of features.
Automating Your Email
You might think that automating your email is complicated but is actually not. To set up yours properly, you need to look at four aspects.
- Your Plan
As with anything else that involves marketing, you need to lay out the path on how your automated email marketing will become successful. Your automation campaign has to have something to guide it through and this is where your plan will become important.
To lay out your plan for your email automation, what you need to identify is what data you need to automate the process. In other words, you have to identify which customer actions will serve as “triggers” for your emails to be sent to upon activation.
Here are some of the triggers normally used in email automation:
- Signing up which activates a welcome email.
- Registering to your email list which activates a confirmation email.
- Purchasing from the website which activates a transaction confirmation email.
- Long period of non-activity which activates a re-engagement email.
- One month left before the expiry of an account which triggers a subscription renewal email.
These triggers and conditions form the very foundation of your automation. If you have a plan for which data to use, where it comes from, and how it gets to your email marketing automation platform, your automation would function decently at the very least.
- Finding the Right Payment Option
As far as expenses on your part concerned, Email marketing Automation comes in 3 distinct flavours which are:
The free-to-pay route is ideal for anyone with little to no marketing budget or have yet to make their first steps into the online marketing world. How do you know if this route is best? If your subscriber list contains no more than 500 people or your brand has yet to find a niche in the market, then going for a freemium option is good.
Freemium versions of Automated Email Marketing systems contain the basic functions of that product. In essence, they offer you a bare-bones experience in the hopes that you would upgrade to a paying option later on because, eventually, you’ll outgrow that version’s functionality.
Either way, going free-to-pay is best for getting the hang of the basics of automated email marketing.
At this level, you will get more enhanced features on your dashboard like analytics, campaign monitors, and other KPI reporting systems. Basically, you shift from just creating content to tracking how your market is responding to your campaigns in real time.
Going Mid-Tier is ideal if you already have established a foothold in the market and are seeking to expand on your email marketing’s reach. In essence, if you want to go out of your comfort zone (I.e. your niche in the online market) and want something that guides your marketing efforts to improve the chances of conversions, branding and testing from there-on, then this option is best for you.
At this phase, you get the full product at it was designed for plus all the accessories and auxiliary functions. Of course, you’d have to pay full price to get this version of the program.
Having access to every known feature and functionality in that marketing email automation platform is a good idea but there’s a caveat: if you want to make the most of your expenses, you have to use every feature included there. Think about it: why pay for something in full price when the options you are looking for are found in the free or mid-tier versions?
Going Full Price is highly recommended only if you have a dedicated marketing team and your business deals with a high volume of email traffic. This is also best if you want to give your customers a fully customisable experience in every content that they respond to.
- Setting Up the Flow
So, after picking the right system for your email marketing campaign, how do you start automating on it? You might think that this is the most complicated part of the process but, in reality, it is a rather straightforward sequence.
What you have to remember is that the system is, well, already there for you. What you have to put in are the triggers which the system AI will look for in order to send relevant content. Once that content is sent out, the system then monitors how people are responding to it.
To make this even easier for you, here are some examples of basic work flows used by most automated email marketing systems.
- Person registers to your email list.
- System sends out a welcome email.
- Person clicks on welcome email which takes them to your website.
- AI confirms your entry to the website via the welcome email.
- You set up a date in the system’s calendar
- You put in the reason for why that date is important (like a sale or the subscriber’s upcoming birthday)
- AI sends reminders to people on the list regarding such event
- AI tracks their response to the email.
- The AI monitors the span of time a person has been subscribed to your list.
- AI sends out reminders for people who are about to reach a certain milestone in their subscription to you.
- Person clicks on the email.
- AI registers the person’s entry to the website via the email.
Site or Blog Updates
- You are about to publish new content on your website.
- AI sends reminders to people in your list that new content is coming.
- Once the content is up, AI sends another email notifying people that it is up .
- People click on the link which takes them to the specific page.
- AI confirms their entry to the website via the email.
Of course, you yourself will have to create the marketing email content for your system to send out. Marketing automation systems still lack the intelligence today to create marketing content that is really engaging and, well, human-sounding.
The Automation part comes into play in the system determining what kind of email to send depending on what that person does regarding your business.
- Measuring Performance
From the sequences above, you can already get an idea as to how people are interacting with your content. You can easily tell which of your emails get the most traction from the different target markets you have. With this information, you can then refine your message to increase its reach or capitalize on your email marketing’s strengths.
However, it is important that you do not rely too much on what the metrics are telling you. An increase in traffic is not worth anything if it does not lead to a more valuable interaction which is your prospects converting into paying customers.
In essence, if the metrics are good but don’t lead to an increase in sales figures or even your brand becoming more visible in the online market, your automated email marketing system is not that really effective.
At the end of the day, what you could do with your automated email marketing system is truly up to you. There are some companies out there that just use the tool for purely banal marketing purposes but there are those that use the tool to create entirely unique experiences for every prospect they meet.
As such, it is up to you to mix and match features that are available in the marketing email automation program that you use. But always keep this in mind: you are better off learning the ins and outs of that platform and using it for your marketing campaigns than opting to have no automated system at all.